Hurricanes and lightning

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Unser Wetter

Ravensburger: 2000. DM24.80

The Weatherbirds: An Incredible Journey Through the Weather of the World

Puffin: 2000. £5.99 (pbk)

Wetter

Bertelsmann: 1999. DM10

Wetterstation

. Ars-edition : 1997. DM19.90

Although weather is an everyday experience, how it happens and why is a rather complicated business. Children's curiosity about it, and their endless questions, can get on parents' nerves. Mercifully, much new material is available with answers to their questions.

Two books for 5–8-year-olds — Unser Wetter and The Weatherbirds — include instructions for simple experiments demonstrating the most important aspects. For German speakers, Unser Wetter is very informative. Weatherbirds, on the other hand, tells a wonderful story of a parrot's journey from Canada back home to Costa Rica. Imaginative pictures and scientific sketches illustrate the book. In addition to the story, a basic questions-and-answers format explains the vocabulary of weather and the various phenomena encountered during the trip.

For German 10–12-year-olds, Wetter has been translated from the English (Weather; Dorling Kindersley). Its descriptions of meteorological phenomena are cogent and lucid, avoiding too much technical detail. Wetterstation is a German translation from the 1996 French edition (Secrets de la Météorologie; Gallimard Jeunesse). In addition to the historical aspects of meteorology, it gives clear descriptions of aspects such as precipitation and climatic zones. The small weather station from which the book takes its title is more of aesthetic value than any- thing else.

Weather & Climate, one of the books for children of 12 years and up, gives instructions for building a complete weather station using simple materials. The pages are packed with information yet remain clear. Stormy Weather tells exciting eyewitness stories of hurricanes and other dramatic events. Amusing sketches and cartoon stories sugar the pill of complicated correlations such as highs and lows. The book even describes events from the history of meteorology, and ends up with a look at what a modern meteorologist does.

Of the weather-tracker kits designed for children over 12 years, the best of the bunch are for German speakers.The accompanying books — which include help with weather- forecasting — are written by specialists, and Wind und Wetter gives clear instructions for experiments that help to show the effect of meteorological parameters. The kit includes two simple but accurate thermometers and materials for making a wooden weather-vane.

Wetterstation is the most elaborate kit. Its very professional-looking equipment includes a weather-vane and speed indicator with a small computer, and a Styrofoam weather hut. However, the scientific-looking thermometers lack accuracy. The guide to 55 experiments is very well structured, with great emphasis on descriptions of typical cloud pictures. It is fascinating to see how you can imitate land and sea breezes, trade winds and the greenhouse effect at home. If you want a good weather book or kit, check that ready-adjusted instruments are included. Then sit back and watch your children enjoy learning about meteorology.

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